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Kenny Allen
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Blackbaud CRM: Five Steps to Re-ignite Your Vision


When your organization first envisioned implementing Blackbaud CRM, you had hopes and dreams for how things would work once you were using the software. It’s a powerful system, and often the first year is about “normalization” and just getting used to the basics. Now, at year one, it’s a great time to re-ignite the vision, and ensure you and your Blackbaud CRM system have a great relationship. Below are five tips to get you started.

1. Ditch Old Business Processes

Did you design, configure, and implement Blackbaud CRM to manage business processes the same way your legacy system managed them? If so, there may be opportunities to gain efficiencies with your CRM configuration and your business processes. In just two to three hours per week, you can revisit the design documentation created during the implementation, and streamline business processes.

For example, if you've been through an upgrade or completed any post-go-live activities for Blackbaud CRM, chances are those documents aren’t valid anymore. It’s time to tweak! Ideally, these are living documents for your team to use for training, reference, and guidance.

Here are questions to ask:

  1. Are you using memberships in lieu of Recognition Programs? If so, you could be missing out on some automation capabilities in Blackbaud CRM.
  2. Are you managing Major and Planned Giving Management activities in Blackbaud CRM? Are you using the Pipeline reports available to you as standard functionality? Be sure you automate assigning prospect managers, plan managers, prospect plans, and opportunities to those constituents who meet your organization's criteria for a prospect. All it takes is a little planning and elbow grease!
  3. Do you have Prospect Research teams who have valuable and complex responsibilities? Use Blackbaud CRM Prospect Plans to create templated research task sets.
  4. What about Stewardship? Manually managing these activities is so passé! Be sure you’re using the tools available to automate some of those relationship management tactics.
  5. Were there any items left outstanding for after go-live? Do you have a Phase II? III? By revisiting those design decisions and configurations, you’re better prepared to prioritize what goes into subsequent Blackbaud CRM phases.
2. Tinker with Advanced Configurations

Did anyone on your team receive Advanced Configurations Training during the implementation? Don’t let it go to waste! Leverage what you’ve learned to improve your user interface. By using Advanced Configurations in Blackbaud CRM, you can give it a personality and make it work harder for you. For example, using the point-and-click, front-end user interface, you can create:

  • New functional areas
  • New constituent tabs
  • New on-screen and actionable reporting

If you’re already using Advanced Configurations, good for you! Don’t forget, however, to review them every once in a while to make sure they're still useful. If they aren’t, tweak them to provide a better experience for your internal customers. For example, help your donor services team with a custom dashboard to save time on common tasks, such as:

  • Spouses who have different last names
  • Spouses who have different mailing addresses
  • Constituents who have a credit card on file for recurring or sustaining gifts with an expiration date approaching
  • Incomplete constituent addresses. Your Gift Officers likely want to see all gifts from their prospects regardless of whether they're tied to any high-touch fundraising activities. This is easy to surface in one place with any other important-to-a-Gift-Officer information already captured somewhere in Blackbaud CRM. 

Using Advanced Configurations, you can create a simple work area containing functional data lists that users can access and easily update data.

Blackbaud CRM has functionality for all of your nonprofit fundraising needs. To help you get the most from your system, make sure everyone is on board.

3. Hang Out with Your Users

Grab a coffee and make some new friends. Sit with your end users while they do their daily activities in Blackbaud CRM and find out:

  • Are they using the processes selected during implementation?
  • Have some decisions been put on a "parking lot" and never revisited, like your designation hierarchy or your Post to G/L Process?
  • Are your MG/PG/Foundation researchers using their research queues effectively? Are your MG/PG/Foundation researchers using their research queues at all? As mentioned above, you can automate quite a bit of your research task assignment, prospect assignment, prospect plan assignment, and opportunity assignment. Odds are, there are efficiencies to be gained here if you're not using just one of those items. For example, are you sending out a direct response geared toward generating Planned Giving Prospects? You can automatically assign a prospect manager based on the fact that someone responds to request a PG illustration, for example.
  • Have your users encountered issues where they've created work-arounds? What are those? Can they be resolved with a change in configuration, design, or policy/process updates?

Once you see how the end users are functioning within Blackbaud CRM, you’ll have a better idea of how best to help them streamline their activities. You’ll be their new best friend.

4. Get Everyone on Board

Blackbaud CRM has functionality for all of your nonprofit fundraising needs. To help you get the most from your system, make sure everyone is on board. Are you managing your Volunteers in CRM? What about Events? Membership? If you’re not sure how to fully engage your organization, consider talking with JCA. We’re experts with fundraising task management using Blackbaud CRM. Talk to our experts.

5. Adopt Best Practices

Network and benchmark with other Blackbaud CRM organizations. 

  • Your organization is like no other, but your challenges may be very similar to other organizations using Blackbaud CRM. Find out how your peers handle obstacles and opportunities.
  • Ask Blackbaud if there's a Product Advisory Group (PAG) in your area of focus (Advocacy, Higher Ed, Hospitals) and advocate to be on that PAG.

With Blackbaud CRM, you have a sophisticated solution in your hands. Why wait to get the most from your technology investment? JCA can help you align your processes with best practices gleaned from the nonprofit world. With nearly 30 years of fundraising systems consulting experience, we’ll help you align your Blackbaud CRM experience with your needs, across your organization. 

Request your free consultation